Posts tagged with "Facades Conference":

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Energy strategist Sangeetha Divakar on the role of digital techniques in facade design

Digital techniques including parametrization play an increasingly important role in the work of many architects, engineers, and builders, especially those involved in the design and fabrication of high performance facades. "Parametrization is a critical path for facade design," observed Perkins+Will energy strategist Sangeetha Divakar. "A choice set of digital tools are being used to achieve this, especially when design options are optimized in response to several end goal parameters." Divakar will share lessons learned from her work in Seattle and elsewhere next week at Facades+AM Seattle. Her co-presenters on "Combined Modeling Efforts for the Optimized Facade: Models, Methods, Materials" include Morrison Hershfield principal Stéphane Hoffman and Richard Green, of Front, Inc. As someone particularly attuned to environmental performance, said Divakar, "What excites me the most in facade systems optimization now is that the line demarcating design parametrization and energy analysis parametrization is fast disappearing." But while the worlds of aesthetics and energy analysis are more integrated than ever, gaps remain elsewhere. In particular, Divakar pinpointed a need for "a direct integration of facade parametrization with engineering parametrization." Hear more about cutting-edge digital design tools including parametrization from Divakar, Hoffman, and Green on December 4 at Facades+AM Seattle. The symposium, a half-day version of the popular Facades+ conference series, features three sessions on hot topics in facade design and construction, with a special focus on designing and building for the Pacific Northwest. Learn more and register today at the Facades+AM website.
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Perkins+Will’s Bryan Schabel on updating historic campus architecture

Among the Windy City's most well-known assets are its universities, from DePaul in Lincoln Park and the Loop to the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. Many of these campuses, in turn, are characterized by heavy brick and stone architecture in the Neo-Gothic style. The dominance of a single architectural style—a feature of many institutions of higher learning, not just Chicago's—presents a challenge to contemporary architects, who must combine a sensitivity to the existing campus fabric with the imperatives of contemporary college life. Perkins+Will's Temple Hoyne Buell Hall, University of Illinois, Champaign. (Eric Fredericks / Flickr) Perkins+Will's Temple Hoyne Buell Hall, University of Illinois, Champaign. (Eric Fredericks / Flickr) "Context is very important in our design," affirmed Perkins+Will design principal Bryan Schabel, who works on a variety of projects including educational buildings. "We pay particular attention to the massing of our buildings and their relationship to the existing conditions—whether it is an adjacent building, a path or road, or a court or quadrangle that we either want to enhance or create with our designs. Additionally, we try to take cues from the scale and materiality of the existing campus when we design." Next week, Schabel will participate in a panel on campus design at the Facades+ Chicago conference. His co-panelists include moderator William Menking (AN), Valerio Dewalt Train Associates' Joe Valerio, and Patrick Loughran of Goettsch Partners. As for cases where the existing architectural language and modern mandates come into conflict, an open mind is key. "Often times, some literal aspects of the context may be counter to the goals of the project," said Schabel. "The solidity of some historical campuses' contexts, for instance, may not achieve the daylighting goals we have in our contemporary buildings, so we may use the context in a more abstract way to relate the new and old." School administrators tend to support such an approach, he explained. "While we have had clients that wanted a more literal interpretation of their historic campuses, most of them have fortunately been in line with our ideas of modernity, as long as they still relate in scale with the overall experience of the campus," said Schabel. Hear more from Schabel, his co-panelists, and other movers and shakers in the world of facade design and fabrication at Facades+ Chicago November 5-6. Register today on the conference website.
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Facades+ Chicago workshops offer hands-on exposure to cutting-edge concepts and techniques

Among the many continuing education opportunities available to members of the AEC industry, the Facades+ conference series stands out for a number of reasons. Not least of these is its unique two-day format, which combines a symposium packed with top-tier keynotes, panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and networking breaks with an opportunity to dive deep into facade design and fabrication in a hands-on tech/lab or dialog workshop. Facades+ Chicago, timed to coincide with the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, includes a particularly impressive lineup of workshops. Attendees can choose one of three day-long tech workshops or a total of two of six half-day dialog workshops. Tech workshops include “Dynamo for Computational BIM,” led by Autodesk’s Colin McCrone and Neal Burnham, and “Integrated Parametric Daylighting and Energy Modeling for High Performance Building Design,” with the University of Pennsylvania School of Design’s Mostapha Roudsari, creator of Ladybug and Honeybee. The third tech workshop, “Curtain Wall Systems: From Sketch to Completion” is a Facades+ first. With guidance from Bart Harrington and Richard Braunstein, both of YKK AP America, participants will learn about different curtain wall system types and installation techniques by assembling, installing, and glazing a series of mockups. The Facades+ Chicago dialog workshop offerings are equally wide-ranging, and some of them extend upon the symposium's content. Morning sessions include “New Techniques in Parametric Design,” with SOM’s Neil Katz and Joel Putnam, “Energy Efficient or Healthy Buildings: Do We Have to Choose?” led by Dr. Helen Sanders (Sage Glass), Steve Fronek (Wausau Window and Wall Systems), Jim Baney (Schuler Shook), and Soyoung Hwang (WELL Building Institute), and Part I of “Listening to the Facade: Acoustic Design Considerations and Techniques for the Building Envelope,” with Ryan Biziorek and Fiona Gillan, both of Arup, and JGMA’s Juan Moreno. During the afternoon, attendees can choose among “Facades Driving Indoor Environments,” led by Stephen Ray (SOM), Arathi Gowda (SOM), Narada Golden (YR&G), and Lisa White (Passive House Institute US), “Performance Validation of Facades Through Simulation and Testing,” with Buro Happold’s Emir Pekdemir, USG Corporation’s AJ Rao, and Derek Cavataio, of Architectural Testing, Inc., or Part II of the ARUP/JGMA panel. The afternoon session on “Listening to the Facade” includes a field trip to the Arup SoundLab, a short walk down the Chicago River at 35 East Wacker Drive. Enrollment in dialog and tech workshops is extremely limited—sign up today to secure your place. Register or learn more at the Facades+ Chicago website.
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SOM’s Neil Katz on parametric modeling in facade design

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) associate Neil Katz describes his approach to crafting facades as involving a “computational design” methodology. In computational design, the architect generates solutions to a particular problem by first defining a set of rules and criteria for the model. Though the many tools Katz uses during this process include intangibles like “a desire to explore as many valid options as possible” and his office’s collaborative environment, in many instances he also performs literal computation—specifically, parametric modeling. Katz will moderate a panel on “Creating Complex Facades with Parametric Control” at next month’s Facades+ Chicago symposium. On day two of the conference, he and SOM colleague Joel Putnam will lead a dialog workshop on “New Techniques in Parametric Design." Parametric modeling can be the means to several ends, explained Katz. First, it can be used to explore a building’s massing, taking into account constraints like program, site, climate, context, and the overarching design concept. When applied to facade panelization, meanwhile, parametric control works with a different set of rules, including the relative flatness of the facade or the desire for regularity or other panel properties. Finally, observed Katz, “analysis and simulation, and visualization of the results, is also part of the parametric process—and can be a parametric process in its own right.” Katz’s affinity for parametric design is in part an outgrowth of his interest in programming. “Even in school, but especially when I started working at SOM, this ability became a natural part of creating models, and performing many of the tasks I was given,” he said. During the 1980s, as a design student enrolled in computer science courses, he was an anomaly. But that may be changing. “For many years, engineers [also had to have] some expertise at programming to do their work,” said Katz. “That’s becoming true for architects as well. I would say that most architecture students are now interested in acquiring and using this skill.” He has observed a similar shift among his fellow architects at SOM. “More and more, my colleagues are building their own models, and my contribution is helping to develop a strategy to make the model as powerful and flexible as possible,” said Katz. Like Katz, his co-panelists are working to solve some of the challenges inherent to parametric design, including the time it takes to perform the various analyses. Tristan d’Estrée Sterk, of Formsolver and ORAMBRA, is “currently developing a tool (Formsolver) which will allow architects to easily optimize a building’s form and material use as little energy as necessary,” said Katz. Matthew Shaxted will also join the conversation. Parallel.Works, the firm he co-founded, gives AEC industry professionals access to the computing power necessary to perform many of the analyses described above. “Parallel.Works does not create new tools, as Formsolver does, but allows people to use existing tools in a more powerful way,” observed Katz. Thornton Tomasetti vice president Hauke Jungjohann is the third member of the panel. A specialist in parametric modeling, form optimization, and digital information transfer, Jungjohann leads the Facade Engineering practice for the firm’s East U.S. Region. Hear from Katz, d’Estrée Sterk, Shaxted, Jungjohann, and other leaders in the field of building envelope design and fabrication November 5-6 at Facades+ Chicago. Learn more and register today by visiting the Facades+ website.
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Matthew Johnson on the Reemergence of Craft in the Digital Age

For much of its early history, architecture was more than a pragmatic response to the problem of shelter. It was infused by craft. "Craft has existed in all kinds of industry, especially architecture, for a long time," said Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH) principal Matthew Johnson. "But I feel it it lost its way in the twentieth century as we chased efficiency over quality." Until quite recently, in fact, Johnson felt that hope for a reunion of art and technics within architecture was dim. Then he had an epiphany. "It struck me that craft exists now, it's just in a completely different way than what I traditionally had thought," said Johnson. Where he previously defined craft as "a manual labor and artistic trade," Johnson saw that "craft has evolved into a computational trade, where you can create interest and detail computationally." Johnson, who is the "New Design" Practice Leader for SGH as well as Structural Engineering Head for the firm's Chicago office, will share his thoughts on the contemporary craft of building envelopes in a presentation at next month's Facades+ Chicago conference. Johnson was careful to stress that, for him, the new architectural craft is about more than just good-looking graphics: it extends to fabrication, for instance 3D printing. "There's a whole world of opportunity out there to create [at least] parts of building with an incredible level of detail and precision," said Johnson. "That doesn't mean we need to make things materially complex for complexity's sake. But there are often other needs to be met. We can start to be really creative in how we approach things." As an example, cited new techniques for designing and building in concrete. Constructing a concrete hyperboloid the old-fashioned way took a ton of time and effort, because the forms had to be put together on site, by hand. "Now all of a sudden we can build incredibly complex formwork, off site," said Johnson. "It's sort of like craft has reemerged in our profession. There's a skill set out there that allows this to happen." For Johnson, who will focus his talk, "Digital: Design-to-Fabrication Opportunities in Contemporary Facades," on SGH projects in the public realm, one of the most exciting developments has to do with the relative affordability of certain digital techniques. "For a museum, it's easy to be inventive," said Johnson. "They might have $1000 per square foot to build. What's interesting is where we see it in smaller projects, for example in K-12 schools. You can start to be inventive and inject craft into something that would otherwise be cost prohibitive." Hear from Johnson and other AEC industry leaders, and view the latest facade materials and systems at the Methods & Materials Gallery, at Facades+ Chicago November 5–6. View additional information and register online at the conference website.
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Architect John Ronan talks opportunities, challenges in dynamic facade design

In recent years, building envelope assemblies have become increasingly sophisticated, separating the skin from its traditional, structural function and thus making way for formal experimentation. But this freedom "presents a bewildering challenge," says John Ronan, founding principal of Chicago-based John Ronan Architects. "What do you do when you can do anything? When the surface of the building asks for no more than a cladding? I think architects are struggling with this question, and that is why one sees so many arbitrary formal tropes in facade design now; anything is possible, but nothing has meaning." Ronan, who also teaches at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture, will share some of his own experience designing dynamic facades during the afternoon keynote address at November's Facades+ Chicago conference. For Ronan, a successful facade design begins with project-specific issues that go beyond environmental performance and client, to include program, identity, social factors, and historical context. As an example, he contrasted his firm's treatment of the Poetry Foundation and Gary Comer Youth Center buildings. "At the Comer center, security and safety were primary issues due to violence in the neighborhood, and that influenced the facade design, while at the Poetry Foundation the issue was more one of public interface and creating a sense of intrigue or mystery, to entice someone to come in and explore," explained Ronan. The IIT Innovation Center presents a third point of reference. "[That facade] is driven by context, that is, the Mies [van der Rohe] campus, but also by technology—the idea that an institute of technology should have something very forward looking and innovative." Regarding the particularities of designing and fabricating facades for his hometown, observed Ronan, "Chicago is still a place where things are made, so we have a deep pool of material and fabrication knowhow to draw upon, and to a certain extent, the world still comes to Chicago for high rise design, a market which is typically on the leading edge of facade technology." On the flip side, architects and builders must contend with the Windy City's alternately hot, wet, and freezing weather. "Sadly, we have to leave buildings out in the rain, and this often dictates which materials and assemblies can and cannot be used Chicago," said Ronan, tongue in cheek. More seriously, he continued, "The development of rain screen facades has been liberating for us here, because it allows us to enclose the building and then come back in the spring to install the facade." Catch up with Ronan and other AEC industry leaders November 5–6 at Facades+ Chicago. Register today or learn more at the Facades+ Chicago website.
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Chris Wilkinson reflects on cutting-edge facade technologies

Ask London-based WilkinsonEyre Director Chris Wilkinson to describe some of the interesting facades he has worked on recently, and you will hear him rattle off a dizzying array of materials, from glass to stone, concrete, brick, and timber. But while his firm's varied portfolio includes the gamut of traditional building materials, his approach to envelope design could hardly be classed as such. Wilkinson, who will deliver the opening keynote at the Facades+ Chicago conference in November, professes a special interest in exterior technologies having to do with reflectivity, shading, ventilation, and responsiveness. With respect to color and reflectivity, Wilkinson prefers to look back—way back—at Westminster Abbey Chapter House, built around 1250 and restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the early 1870s. The Chapter House "is the most magnificent stone and glass facade, full of color and very elegant," said Wilkinson. "That's inspired some colored projects we've done," including the Queen Mary, University of London mathematics building and the University of Exeter Forum. Wilkinson is also eager to talk about the Dyson campus in Malmesbury, UK. "It's a research building in the middle of the country," he explained. "It's a relatively large building, but you can't really judge the size of it because of its reflectivity." On the traditional materials front, Wilkinson is particularly excited about the stone "veil" WilkinsonEyre has developed for the Crown Sydney Hotel in Sydney, Australia. "It's equivalent to what I would call Gothic stone tracery," he said. "We're using modern technology to recreate the sort of effect you got in Gothic times. It's something that they found very interesting in Australia, because they don't have any old buildings there." Wilkinson's apparently never-ending curiosity extends to responsive facades. In addition to his firm's work with dichroic glass, he points to a scheme to construct drum-shaped residential buildings within the 1867 gasholder guide frames at King's Cross. "It's a fairly normal facade system, but with an outer layer of shading shutters that open and close at the touch of your iPhone," explained Wilkinson. "These are circular buildings, so you can imagine the effect will be quite dynamic." As to why the materials and systems he uses changes so much from project to project, Wilkinson is clear that everything originates from the brief and context rather than a preconceived commitment to diversity. "I'm not trying to be different for the sake of being different," he said. "I'm looking for something that's relevant to that particular project." At the same time, he balances pragmatics with an inner drive for innovation. "I and many of my colleagues have an interest in exploring possible new uses of old materials, and in exploring uses of new materials," said Wilkinson. "We like pushing the boundaries, really. And we try not to do anything that's ordinary." Hear more from Wilkinson and other movers and shakers in the world of building envelope design and fabrication at Facades+ Chicago. Visit the conference website for more information or to register.
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Critic Alastair Gordon diagnoses Miami with a case of “facade-ism”

Miami is a place of sunshine and gloss, bronzed bodies and signature cocktails. But for architecture critic and author Alastair Gordon, the underlying dynamics—including the harsh realities of income inequality and rising sea levels—are what make the city truly interesting. These dynamics are further obscured by the recent construction boom. "There are these crazy investments from overseas," said Gordon. "A lot is coming from South America, but also Europe, China, and Russia. That's fascinating, but it's completely in denial of what else is happening in Miami." Architecture can play a role in bridging the gap between the real and the ideal, said Gordon, pointing to Herzog & de Meuron's Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) as a prime example. Gordon will be on site at the museum on Friday, September 11, leading a tour of the Faena District, Miami Beach, and the Design District on the second day of the Facades+ Miami conference. "PAMM is great architecture and a great museum, but it's also a great piece of urbanism," said Gordon. "It shows you what the rest of the city could be" through its relationship to a proposed bike bath and water taxi system. "It suggests a whole new paradigm not just for how a museum operates, but for the city," concluded Gordon. On Thursday, September 10, Gordon will moderate a panel discussion on "Miami: Buoyant City" as part of the Facades+ Miami symposium. Panelists include Zaha Hadid Architects' Chris Lépine, Ximena Caminos of the Faena Group, and Glavovic Studio's Margi Nothard. The three speakers each represent a different approach to facades, said Gordon. Zaha Hadid's 1000 Museum is more about "the building as pure facade, very high end," he said. "That building, more than any of them, is really state of the art in terms of structural integrity." Then there's the Faena District, which Gordon characterized as a "compromise, trying to do architecture with community involvement." Caminos, he explained "is the brains behind the cultural immersion they do. It's not just fancy architects parachuting into Miami. They really live here, they're extremely involved in community affairs." As for Nothard, Gordon says he is "a fan" of her work. "She has done extraordinary things with building affordable housing and senior housing on a level you can't believe." Gordon finds the topic of facades especially fitting for Miami. "It's always been a city of facade-ism," he said. "It's so much about appearance; people don't want to know what's going on behind the facade." But as the work of his co-panelists demonstrates, Miami's reputation for superficiality may be on the brink of a transformation, said Gordon. "In that way the city's changing in a really good way." To hear more from Gordon and his co-panelists, and to sign up for an exclusive field trip to the Faena District, Miami Beach, and the Design District, visit the Facades+ Miami website.
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Developer Andrew Frey on aesthetics versus urbanism in Miami’s building codes

When it comes to navigating Miami’s zoning codes, Tecela principal Andrew Frey brings an experience-based advantage to the table. Before transitioning to the business side of development in early 2011, he spent six years as a zoning lawyer. “I always wanted to be a developer, and I learned a lot from my developer clients,” recalled Frey. Frey will moderate a panel on “Creative Facade Solutions: Responses to Local Zoning” at next week’s Facades+ Miami conference. Panelists include Arquitectonica founder Bernardo Fort Brescia; Carlos Rosso, president of The Related Group’s condominium division; City of Miami commissioner Marc Sarnoff; and Shulman + Associates founding principal Allan Shulman. From the perspective of the Miami-area developer, said Frey, the two most important factors in facade design and fabrication are moisture penetration and attractiveness. As an example, he pointed to an apartment building project in Coral Gables, completed while Frey was with his previous employer. To tackle the moisture issue, the development team paid special attention to the window assemblies, and to any areas where water could penetrate the stucco. On the aesthetic side, they worked within the city of Coral Gables’ incentives for Mediterranean architecture to design a complicated envelope articulated to break up the plane of the front wall. In general, observed Frey, the facade is “extremely important” in an urban environment. For an attached product, in particular, “it’s the only differentiation that the building will have, because you don’t see the sides or back,” he said. “Townhouses, row houses, brownstones—for that kind of a building, the facade is all it has.” With respect to how Miami building regulations impact envelope design and construction, Frey mentioned two potential problem areas. The first concerns Miami-Dade County’s hurricane code, which requires special approval for every product used. “The state of Florida and national building codes don’t count, so you’re somewhat limited in your choices,” he said. Frey cited Frank Gehry’s New World Center as a case in point. “When going through conceptual approval, they were proposing a very minimally supported glass wall,” he said. “What they wound up being able to build had very thick structural members.” (Frey acknowledged that other factors, including cost, may have led to the change in design.) Second, and more troublesome for Frey, is the subjective design review process. From his point of view, the existence of stringent design standards without an underlying commitment to fine-grained urban development reflects a confusion of priorities. “A lot of jurisdictions want to put in place very complicated facade design guidelines, but what they really need to do is to make small-scale urbanism developable,” explained Frey. “If your zoning just encourages super tall towers where the ground floor is an afterthought, of course you’re going to get monotonous, throwaway lower facades.” Hear more from Frey, his co-panelists, and other leading voices in facades design and fabrication at Facades+ Miami. Learn more and register today on the conference website.
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The Facades+ conference digs into Miami architecture this September

Facades+, the premier conference on high performance building envelopes, stands out as an exception to the rule of generic meet-and-greets. The series delivers targeted information on and stimulates dialogue about specific, location-based issues in the fields of facade design, engineering, and fabrication. Facades+ attracts leading industry experts and sponsors for symposia and experiential activities, including workshops and/or field trips. This September, Facades+ makes its South Florida debut with Facades+ Miami. The conference kicks off September 10 with breakfast and check-in, followed by a welcome from co-chairs William Menking, AN's Editor-in-Chief, and John Stuart, Associate Dean for Cultural and Community Engagement at FIU College of Architecture. Between keynote addresses by Rojkind Arquitectos' Michel Rojkind ("Habitable Facade/Tactical Necessity) and Oppenheim Architecture + Design's Chad Oppenheim ("Harmonizing Facades to the Environment"), attendees will hear from speakers and panels on topics ranging from "Creative Facade Solutions: Responses to Local Zoning" to "Miami's Next Steps." Presenters include Vincent J. DeSimone, Founder/Chairman at DeSimone Consulting Engineers; Tecela Principal Andrew Frey; architecture critic and author Alastair Gordon; AIA Miami + Miami Center for Architecture & Design's Cheryl H. Jacobs; Rodolphe el-Khoury, Dean of the University of Miami School of Architecture; FIU College of Architecture's Marilys Nepomechie; Shulman + Associates Founding Principal Allan Shulman; and many more. In addition to earning 8 AIA HSW CEUs for attending the symposium, conference participants can register for one of two exclusive field trips (4 AIA HSW CEUs) on September 11. Both field trips depart from the new Pérez Art Museum Miami. The Downtown and Brickell tour, led by Allan Shulman, is sold out. The second field trip is led by Alastair Gordon and focuses on Miami Beach and the Design District, including the massive mixed-use Faena District. Faena District highlights include the Rem Koolhaas/OMA-designed Faena Forum and Foster + Partners' Faena House. The tour will also make stops at or drive by new and retrofitted Miami Beach resorts as well as high-end retail destinations in the Design District designed by David Chipperfield, Sou Fujimoto, and René Gonzalez. Register today for Facades+ Miami, a one-of-a-kind chance to dig deep into the triumphs and tribulations of designing and building facades for South Florida and beyond.
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More on Miami’s remarkable growth from architect Allan Shulman

When it comes to development, said Allan Shulman, principal of Miami-based Shulman + Associates, "Miami has always been a true 'boom and bust' city, with the cycles highly compressed in comparison to other North American cities." In that sense, then, today's construction extravaganza is just another iteration of a familiar pattern. One thing that is different, however, is that the current trend in South Florida development favors urban over suburban growth patterns. "Miami is filling in and densifying in a continuous arc from Brickell up to Edgewater, and along major road and water arteries toward the west," noted Shulman. "Urban life will be better and more connected in the urban core." Next month, Shulman will lead an exclusive field trip through two local development hot spots—downtown Miami and the Brickell Corridor—as part of the Facades+ Miami conference. "The downtown core is in the midst of a renaissance," he explained. "It has had a kind of low-key vibrancy in the 20 years I've lived in Miami, typically extremely busy during the day and quiet at night." That has begun to change recently with the opening of new restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, creative offices, and cultural destinations including the Miami Center for Architecture + Design. "There is great building stock downtown, and it's fantastic that many buildings are finding new lives with new uses," said Shulman. The pace of growth in the Brickell area is even more remarkable. "Between megaprojects like Brickell City Centre and the crowd of towers rising to the south, it's just exploded," said Shulman. "It seems that most open or underutilized lots are in some phase of development." Much of the new construction, he observed, includes a residential focus. And because both downtown and Brickell offer easy access to rail transit, "it will be interesting to see if this transit-oriented development sets new patterns for the rest of the city," he said. As is often the case, Miami's present building boom benefits some segments of the local population more than others. "There is little development in the middle-tier market, and for affordable housing," said Shulman. "We still haven't broken through significantly to housing types other than single family homes and high-rise towers. It's a mixed story." Yet he remains optimistic about the overall picture. "Miami continues to be a vibrant urban and architectural laboratory," he said. "Developers and architects take risks, and there seems to be a positive reception in the market." In addition, "Miami has been bullish on infrastructure lately," observed Schulman, with new rail extensions to the airport, and a second multimodal central station being built downtown. "Add to this the new port tunnel, museums, park improvements, river and bay walks, and we are starting to build a more robust civic realm," he said. "Way more needs to be done, but the trend has been positive." Join the conversation about present and future development in Miami and beyond at Facades+ Miami September 10–11. See a complete symposium agenda and sign up for a field trip on the conference website. *Seats to both tours are extremely limited—get your tickets today!
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Architect Chad Oppenheim on Getting Back in Touch With Nature

Asked about the pros and cons of practicing architecture in South Florida, Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture + Design principal and lead designer Chad Oppenheim said, "It's always wonderful to design buildings in a beautiful environment such as Miami." He mentioned specifically the city's connection to nature, and the extent to which the surrounding water, sky, and vegetation provide inspiration. "I think that people come to Miami to enhance their lives, and as a firm it's always been our mission to design buildings and homes to help people achieve just that." But while the landscape and the spirit of the people inhabiting it act as positive stimuli, other regional characteristics are cause for concern. "Typically, I find that Miami is a place where it is expensive to build for what you get," observed Oppenheim, who will deliver the afternoon keynote at September's Facades+ Miami conference. "There is a quality issue that is hard to work around in Miami." The challenge is especially apparent when he compares his South Florida experience to his firm's Switzerland office. "While the building and construction costs may be the same price [in Europe], the quality is a lot better. There's a tremendous passion for craft and quality there that somehow is not necessarily a mission for people here in Miami." At the same time, Oppenheim is heartened by the recent arrival of international design talent on the local architecture scene. "In terms of improvement, as the city becomes more sophisticated and more mature, there's a greater desire for incredible architecture, amazing buildings, and quality projects," he said. As for Oppenheim Architecture + Design's approach to facades, explained Oppenheim, "It's not just about decoration, but how the building's skin can accomplish a goal." In particular, he noted the way in which an overdependence on air conditioning manifests in a one-size-fits-all relationship to the surrounding elements. "We believe that there might be a way to get more connected to the environment, and also do it in a way that's interesting architecturally." Oppenheim cited his firm's recently-completed Net Metropolis in Manila. "The facade includes a combination of sun shading and a high performance insulated glass window wall that minimizes incident solar heat gain and optimizes natural light, while giving occupants a panoramic view of the surrounding city," he said. The green envelope cuts down on the cost and energy consumption associated with air conditioning. "It's a way of dealing with design for the elements, doing it in a more low-tech way," concluded Oppenheim. Connecting the Philippines example back to his home city, he said, "We see a lot of buildings in Miami from before air conditioning was so prevalent featuring screens that become part of the architecture. It's really nice to see those kinds of things and how beautiful and appropriate they are to the climate." To meet Oppenheim and hear more about his take on high performance building envelopes, register for Facades+ Miami today. See a list of symposium speakers and exclusive field trip options on the conference website.